May 5th AdWords Announcements from Google

GoogleThere’s been a running joke among digital marketers for years now that THIS year will be the “year of mobile.” And for awhile, years came and went without that pinnacle being reached. Finally, we’ve now had some years of mobile, and Google officially announced that there are more searches on mobile devices than there are on desktop devices.

Coinciding with this announcement, Google had its second-annual Inside AdWords livestream event wherein they announced some new features. One of the noted challenges advertisers now have is that there’s not a clear-cut conversion path. Users research on multiple devices and they comparison shop before purchasing; obviously, Google is a huge part of those processes. With that in mind, they have created enhancements to the AdWords platform to continue to be relevant in this new purchase cycle.

New Ad Formats: Auto, Hotel, Mortgages

According to a Polk Automotive Buyer Research Study , users spend up to 15 hours researching and comparison shopping for cars online. That’s a lot of clicks in the SERPs! To streamline and continue to give searchers what they want in the easiest way possible, AdWords is rolling out Automobile Ads. This new ad format allows you to interact with a carousel of car images you can swipe through, and tapping on them reveals additional information about performance and features. To click further, there will be a “Dealers” link that then displays nearby dealers to you. In many ways, this reminds me of a multi-tabbed rich media delivery-type engine, but housed within the structure/framework/format of a SERP ad.

Another comparison shopping-heavy vertical are Hotels. It doesn’t sound like it would have a lot in common with automotive, but the user behaviors are actually very similar: users want to compare photos, features and pricing efficiently. AdWords has announced Hotel Ads, which allow the user to compare these things along with pricing, and the click off the ad will happen when they select “Book” to move forward with purchase, where they will go directly to a partner site.

Finally, last fall it was noted that Google had pushed out Google Compare, which showed auto insurance rates right on the SERPs page for users. This same logic will also be applied to the mortgage industry, which will feature things like rates and loan terms, and allow users to utilize click-to-call to speak with an agent further. The program will launch in California, but unlike the other two ad formats noted previously, Google will actually be the lead gen provider as opposed to the ad server, operating on a CPA model.

Conversion & Sales Attribution

The other piece of the announcement revolved around attribution of sales/conversions. Like we noted in the intro to this post, the buying path has gotten increasingly complex, and marketers are looking for ways to value their media outside of the last click in the user’s path in order to assign value. In an attempt to help with this, Google is creating tools to help unify all the touch points that exist.

The first is AdWords Attribution. Previously, users really relied a lot more on Google Analytics to apply different attribution model scenarios, but Google is now making this concept available in the AdWords interface itself. You will be able to select your desired attribution model, apply it to each conversion type you are monitoring, and integrated into automated bidding algorithms.

Another addition to automated bidding abilities will be cross-device conversion bidding, along with the ability to add cross-device conversions as a reporting feature within the Conversions category.

Last, Google touched on the role of display and its incremental impact on overall marketing efforts. I always felt this was lacking from Google, for as much as they try and push display – the last-click nature of the reporting made Display a harder sell to many companies because they were addicted to the last-click conversion metric. The information on what exactly they will have available in regards to this felt a little more vague than the rest of the announcement, but the suite of Marketing Experiment tools that will be available was summed up in a case study for that you can read. (They also utilize a CPiA model in the study: cost per incremental acquisition. Yay! More acronyms!)

New ad formats always gets us PPC folk excited, and many of us have been saying for awhile that, while there’s no way to “solve” attribution, we wished more options to explore it were available. It looks like we might get our wish, though the actual implementation of these new shiny things still remains to be seen. It’s also interesting to see Google’s continued foray into being an information provider, versus a place that solely collects money based on clicks. These new ad formats also mean more time spent on the SERP as opposed to clicking in and out of it, though there’s understandable frustration and nervousness around things like Google Compare, which takes the control out of the hands of the companies showing for the results.

What do you think? Good strides forward overall, or do you see some steps backward?